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  • HHJ Kloss had to decide whether the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact upon the value of a key asset was a sufficient ground to set aside a financial remedy consent order. The husband had not paid the first lump sum of £750,000, and had at first applied to stay the lump sum provision for one year with a review in nine months, due to the impact of Covid-19 upon his ability to raise the lump sums. He had then applied to have it set aside entirely. HHJ Kloss set aside the stay application as having been superseded. He then dismissed the husband’s application to set aside the order. In principle, the pandemic was a potential Barder event, opening the door to set aside, but the risk of the event had been reasonably foreseeable to the husband when the agreement had been made in March 2020, and an overall assessment of the impact of the pandemic and more general factors led the court to exercise its discretion against the husband. The Barder threshold was deliberately set very high, and this change was not fundamental enough to meet it. Among other reasons, the company remained viable, and was projected to bounce back significantly. The husband had chosen for himself the path of greatest personal risk, which was projected to lead to the greatest personal reward. Although he would not have made the same deal had he known what lay ahead, sympathy and fairness did not form part of the test to be applied. The case would be listed for further applications and directions to be considered. Judgment, 26/05/2021, free
  • A judgment that, Knowles J said, endeavoured to provide a clear context for the claims brought by the former wife against some of the eleven respondents, and to then analyse and determine those claims, having taken account of a mass of documentary and oral evidence. The wife had been the victim of a series of schemes designed to put every penny of the husband’s wealth beyond her reach, a strategy designed to render her powerless by ensuring that, if she did not settle her claim for financial relief following their divorce on the husband’s terms, there would be no assets left for her to enforce against. Knowles J's decision was as follows. To grant relief to the wife against Counselor Trust: (a) as trustee of the Genus Trust, in the sum received from Cotor, the best estimate of which was US$650 million; (b) as trustee of the Arbaj Trust, US$36,624,946, CHF 4,000,000 and £1 million ; (c) as trustee of the Ladybird Trust, US$46,752,468, CHF 1,287,078.50, €76,918 and £128,100; and (d) as trustee of the Carnation Trust, US$455,363,485, and CHF 10,000; with joint and several liability where relevant to avoid double recovery. She granted relief to the wife against Sobaldo Establishment, in its capacity as trustee of the Longlaster Trust, in the sum of US$546,735,165. The relief granted against the eldest son, Temur, was (a) US$67,500,000 in respect of the claim for transfers of the Monetary Assets to him from Cotor in 2015 and 2016; (b) US$31,499,998 in respect of the claim for receipt of Monetary Assets previously held by Counselor Trust and/or Sobaldo Establishment between 2017 and 2019; and (c) RUB 531,560,331 in respect of the claim in respect of a Moscow property. His oral evidence had been preceded by his belated admissions of having significantly breached his disclosure obligations, described by Knowles J as "lamentable litigation conduct". She also granted the wife relief against Borderedge Ltd in the sum of €27,500,021.38. Judgment, 02/05/2021, free
  • The husband and wife had been engaged in highly acrimonious and litigious financial remedy proceedings since late 2019. This hearing concerned the husband's application for the wife to pay, on an indemnity basis, his costs of a preliminary issue regarding the beneficial ownership of five ships and whether the couple were indebted to the second to sixth respondents. The latter issue had been settled following a payment from those respondents to the wife. Lieven J stated that the wife's conduct had been "fairly extraordinary". She had alleged a conspiracy to defraud her of millions of pounds of matrimonial assets, and then decided not to pursue those allegations, having already put the husband to enormous expense and depriving him of the chance to clear his name. It was a basic principle, said Lieven J, that fraud should not be pleaded without sufficient evidence. Where a party pleaded fraud, and then withdrew that claim, the argument that they should pay the other party's costs was even stronger than in the withdrawal of other types of claim. The wife would pay the husband's costs of and occasioned by the preliminary issues on an indemnity basis. Judgment, 15/01/2021, free
  • Live webinar to be broadcast 1pm-2pm, on Tuesday 12th January 2021. News, 18/12/2020, free
  • An application by the former husband for permission to appeal out of time against the order for him to pay to the wife a lump sum of £3.09m, as well as periodical payments of £4,750 per calendar month and other amounts. The husband argued that he could not afford to meet the terms of the order, and that the judge had taken half the value of the husband’s shareholdings in two private companies with no evidence-based indication as to how the husband would be able to raise the required lump sum. The wife's position was that the appeal was not just out of time, but hopelessly so, and that the evidence at trial had indicated that the husband had been planning to sell his business interests in order to satisfy the lump sum payment, rather than relying upon dividends. In Mr Recorder Salter's judgment, the delay here was "serious and lacking in any good explanation". He had no hesitation in reaching the conclusion that he was unable to grant relief from sanctions and that accordingly the application for permission to appeal had to be dismissed. Judgment, 21/11/2020, free

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